The Haitian masses always get their man.
After we reported a couple of days ago that rumours were circulating that Americans had planted the cholera bacterium in Haiti, we were reprimanded for trivializing an important issue. The press, establishment or alternative, are sticking to the ‘facts’ in the case. How is the epidemic progressing? What strain of cholera are we facing? Who is educating the masses? How is pure water being distributed? And so on. However, the Haitian masses never allow the facts to get in the way of the truth.
Rumours crystallized that the hated MINUSTA troops in Mirebalais had dumped their excrement in the local river, contaminating the Artibonite. (Mirebalais is close to Saut d’Eau, in the version of the rumour that we reported.) Was this true? It doesn’t matter. The MINUSTA forces are now on the defensive throughout Haiti. The country’s main newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, has been forced to lead their coverage with denials from the United Nations troops that they are the source of the epidemic.
In North America, the governments, the media, and corporate powers lie through their teeth all the time. They initiate criminal wars; they destroy our environment; they rob or create laws that allow them to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. (They do this with the support of large swaths of the population that believe they are served by the same actions.) Then, journalists make their careers by uncovering the truth. Scholars debate the ‘truth’ based on the analysis of documents recovered through access to information requests. Meanwhile, the powerful continue along their merry way, leaving the truth seekers to say ‘I told you so,’ after whole countries have been waylaid, lives have been ruined, ecologies destroyed, and wealth transferred.
The Haitian masses decide on the truth through informal national referenda that make their way through the taptaps and street corners. They mix incontrovertible logic with speculation based on the deeper truths that never need to be justified because they are known through experience. For instance, they knew that the question of where the cholera bacteria came from was not answered by scientific explanations of how it propagates through the human intestinal system. They decided that it came from a group that are unwelcome in Haiti: MINUSTA. In fact, after the rumours circulated, medical authorities validated the claim that this particular strain of cholera had never existed in Haiti. The Haitian masses have fixed their eyes on the Nepalese contingent stationed in Mirebalais. Le Nouvelliste is printing assurances from MINUSTA authorities that those troops use septic tanks that are located a permissible distance from the river. The poor have put MINUSTA on the defensive. This situation shows how the Haitian masses construct their power bases. They have made the microbe foreign to Haiti even as it ravages the population. And they have laid it at the door of the hated MINUSTA troops.
But they aren’t finished. Rumours are now circulating that Bill Clinton is behind the epidemic. We discussed how these rumours were taking shape earlier in the week: at the time, word had it that the Americans had planted the microbe. Now, someone has recalled that Clinton said after the earthquake that Haiti was overpopulated. (It doesn’t matter whether Clinton actually said anything even remotely approaching that. The Haitian masses will decide what Clinton said based on what they know.) The gossip passing from taptap to taptap, street corner to corner puts Clinton’s remarks about the lamentable density of the Haitian population together with the appearance of the microbe that might bring the numbers down to a level more acceptable to the United Nations Special Envoy.
The fact that the rumour is spreading tells us already that the masses have seen through the Clinton charm campaign. The Haitians know the real truth. And, they don’t wait for the archives to release the CIA documents and the scholars to publish their analyses before they pass judgement. Once their ‘truth’ gains traction, the facts are no more important than they ever were for the media, politicians, and capitalists that screwed them over in the first place.
Clinton is screwed.